JAFFA – Following the tradition established, World Migrants’ Day was celebrated in Jaffa’s Saint Anthony Church on Saturday, January 14, 2017.

The solemn mass began with the lighting of the Sri Lankan candelabrum and the invoking of the Holy Spirit. Father David Neuhaus SJ, Latin Patriarchal Vicar and Coordinator for the Pastoral Among Migrants welcomed those present and especially the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa. He also welcomed the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Patriarchal Vicar in Nazareth, Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo and the five bishops from the Holy Land Coordination, Bishops from Europe and North America, and their teams, here on their annual visit to the Holy Land as well as the Ambassador of the Philippines Mr. Neale Imperial and his wife. The mass was animated by the various choirs that accompany the migrant communities – Saint Anthony’s mixed choir, the choir from the Divine mercy Filipino community in south Tel Aviv, the Indian Chaplaincy choir, the Ge’ez rite choir and the Lebanese community. The Gospel was proclaimed in Tigrinye according to the Ge’ez rite.

In his homily (full text), Archbishop Pizzaballa thanked the Lord for the beauty and diversity of the Body of Christ and declared again the he is a servant of the unity of the body. He went on to reflect on three important elements of the Church’s mission to migrants: affirming the dignity of migrants, promoting solidarity with and among migrants and speaking out prophetically on behalf of migrants. Concluding his homily, he said: My final prayer is that God will give all of us the courage to speak out prophetically and do what we can to prevent migrants from becoming scape goats and targets of popular frustration… The challenges are many but today we celebrate the gift of our faith, the marvelous diversity of our Church and we recommit ourselves to work together so that we contribute to the light in this land, to the peace that must come and to the spread of the Good News that God has vanquished the darkness despite everything that testifies to the contrary”.

The prayers of the faithful were pronounced in many languages and expressed the fervent wishes of those gathered for justice and peace, families left behind and the children and youth of the migrant communities. The gifts for mass were brought to the altar by migrants dressed in their national costumes. As the faithful came to communion, the choirs continued to sing with a medley of hymns in the various languages of the migrant communities.

At the end of mass, the Archbishop and other bishops were led in musical procession to the school hall where a cultural program was performed. The leaders of the procession were musicians and dancers from the Ge’ez rite community including their priest Father Medhin. On the stage of the school hall a wonderful series of dances were performed to the delight of all present – the Lebanese, Indians, Sri Lankans, Rumanians, Eritreans and Filipinos all shared their musical traditions.

After the program, a simple lunch was served, offered by the Indian Chaplaincy and prepared in the large characteristic Indian pots. This was also a time to meet one another and exchange greetings. Occasions like these bring together people from all over the country, Lebanese from Kiryat Shemona, Filipinos from Haifa and Nazareth, Eritreans from Jerusalem and many faithful from Tel Aviv.

A particular joy this year was the participation of many of the Hebrew speaking Catholic youth, some issue themselves from the migrant communities. The weekend they spent together was consecrated to getting to know these communities better.

Thanks are due to all those who organized the day, particularly the team from Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center, Father Michael Grospe, the director, Sister Lerma, who organized the cultural program and the rest of the team, Sister Regina, Father Tojy, the Indian chaplain, Sister Clarisse, the Sri Lankan coordinator and Father Medhin, the Ge’ez rite chaplain. Thanks are also due to Fathers Diya and Agostino, parish priest and vicar of the Jaffa parish and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word from the parish who accommodated the throng. Finally, thanks are due to the choirs, the dancers, the decorators, the cleaners and the cooks… and all who made this day memorable.

Source : catholic.co.il

Photos: ©Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

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